DRAMMA PER MUSICA IN FIVE ACTS
Libretto by Apostolo Zeno
Venetian Antonio Caldara was made first deputy kapellmeister of the court music ensemble at Vienna under Holy Roman Emperor Charles VI, where he primarily wrote vocal music. He had already been in Vienna for nine years when he wrote the opera Il Venceslao in 1725. With a compositional style influenced by both the Venetian and Viennese styles, he makes the Polish ruler Wenceslaus the central figure in the work. The duke’s two sons fall unhappily in love with the same woman. The brothers fight out their rivalry in arias requiring vocal gymnastics verging on the preposterous and have the Polish Orkiestra Historyczna under the baton of Martyna Pastuszka as their seconds.
In Italian with German surtitles
Introduction to the work 30 minutes before the performance
The musical material used in the performance was created by Dr Silvia Urbani.
The premiere of the opera "Venceslao" is co-financed by the Minister of Culture and National Heritage of the Republic of Poland from funds of cultural promotion in partnership with All'improvviso Festival Gliwice, City of Gliwice, FUGA, Gliwice City Theatre, GAPR and MARCO.
Act I Venceslao,
the King of Poland, and his two sons Casimiro and Alessandro, are celebrating
the triumphant return of General Ernando and want to reward him. The General
asks that his best friend, Alessandro, marry Erenice, a Polish princess. For a
long time, Ernando pretended to be the princess’s lover to protect Alessandro
from Casimiro’s revenge because the latter is also in love with Erenice. In
fact, Casimiro is still convinced that Ernando is his rival and, in his
jealousy, sends the General away.
But Casimiro has also been playing a double game to conceal his love of Erenice. He is engaged to Lucinda, Queen of Lithuania, although he has since abandoned her. Lucinda now travels to Poland disguised as a man, intending to win back her fiancé.
Act II Casimiro
pretends not to recognise Lucinda. However, his confidant Gismondo feels pity
and reminds Casimiro of his promise of marriage. Venceslao promises Lucinda,
whom he does not recognise in her disguise, his unconditional loyalty and makes
serious accusations against Casimiro.
Although Ernando is in fact in love with Erenice, he advises Alessandro and the princess to marry that very evening without seeking permission from King Venceslao beforehand. Casimiro tries his luck with Erenice, but she turns him away. In the process, however, he learns of her impending marriage.
Act III The despairing Lucinda challenges Casimiro to a duel. She is defeated by her fiancé. Lucinda now reveals her true identity to everyone and Venceslao promises her justice.
Casimiro kills his brother out of jealousy. When Ernando and Erenice tell Venceslao what has happened the monarch is horrified. Although Casimiro regrets what he has done and the despairing Lucinda begs him to be merciful, he sentences his son to death.
Act IV Lucinda and Casimiro put aside their differences.
Venceslao laments his fate since he is unable to reconcile his two roles of father and king.
Act V Lucinda, along with Ernando and Erenice, ask for Casimiro’s life to be spared, but for reasons of state King Venceslao cannot grant this request.
In the end, Venceslao abdicates and names Casimiro his successor. As monarch, he can now pardon himself. Casimiro marries Lucinda, and Ernando and Erenice also get together at last too.